As Goafest, the annual jamboree of the Indian advertising, media and marketing world, kicks off its 2022 edition, we asked industry leaders to recount their unforgettable / defining moments from the festival over the years.
For Jaideep Gandhi, who is helming the Advertising Agencies Association of India’s (AAAI) Goafest 2022 getting underway in Goa on 5th May as Chairman, there were two occasions that stand out as the most memorable for him since the festival’s inception in 2006.
“Nakul Chopra’s big, big hug after the event was over and saying, ‘You did a great job!’” gushes Gandhi, amid last minute preparations for the festival that returns after a gap of two years due to the Covid19 pandemic. He was referring to the last two editions of the festival, hosted in 2018 and 2019.
Pradeep Dwivedi, Group CEO and Executive Director, Eros International Media, notes that the unforgettable moments have been many.
He recounts, “We’ve had some amazing and memorable moments over the years, and some of the defining ones for me include a speech by Baba Ramdev, followed by his gut-twisting yoga exhibition, the on-stage camaraderie of school buddies — Sanjay Dutt and Nakul Chopra, opening a session with brand launch of Dainik Bhaskar Corporate AV followed by a session with the inimitable Arjuna Ranatunga, to name a few.”
Amaresh Godbole, CEO, Digital Technology Business, Publicis Groupe India, will be among speakers at a MasterClass on Web 3.0 in this edition of Goafest. He fondly remembers being at the very first edition of the festival as a youngster. That tells us a bit about the significance of the long-running industry fest.
Godbole notes that getting together as a community, an amazing line-up of speakers and the opportunity to see some truly inspiring work at the Abby’s, besides thought provoking conversations all around, are what make Goafest special. “15 years is a special achievement. Kudos AAAI. Can’t wait!” he says, about the current edition.
Mitrajit Bhattacharya, Office Bearer, The Ad Club, notes that Goafest is always about the conclave and the Abby awards.
He adds, “One tete-a-tete at Goafest that stands out is with Viv Richards, that happened a few years ago and the one when I hosted Sidharth Malhotra. Abby awards is now stronger and partners The One Show, that will be the gamechanger for the future.”
“Goafest is all about meeting people and spending time together, celebrating the work and the industry. These three days are inspiring and gets us all rejuvenated”, notes Nandini Dias, until recently the CEO of Lodestar UM. For her, Lodestar UM winning Media Agency of the Year at Goafest 2018 was a high. But there was another really special moment too, she reveals.
Recounts Dias, “There was this year when four of us friends got together and ended up chatting on the beach. Before we knew it, it was morning and we figured that we may as well have breakfast together. It was an unforgettable night of conversation and laughter. Eventually, we got back into our rooms at 9 am.”
A Few Steps Forward…
Ad veteran and Founder of Canco Advertising Ramesh Narayan, who was also Chairman of the Awards Governing Council for two terms, points to two significant developments in the history of the festival.
“Goafest has always been big, loud, and a showcase of the best creative work. But a few years ago, we did two things. We recognised clients who took that leap of faith in us. Clients who owned the brands, paid for them to be amplified and were strangely absent from the Goafest awards stage. I thought it was a great gesture,” he notes.
“Secondly we put together a jury of seven wonderful women, persuaded Amer Jaleel to chair the session and judged entries for a campaign to mitigate violence against women. And got Maneka Gandhi, the then Minister of Women and Child Welfare, to fly down to Goa and launch the campaign. We persuaded AAAI and The Ad Club to fund the production of the winning film and we ran the film across media using our ever-helpful friends in the media. We showed that communication can be a force for good,” he adds.
“Unfortunately I’m not sure if either initiative has been carried forward. The Goafest is the poorer for that,” surmises Narayan.
Moving The Needle, Raising The Bar
For many agencies, Goafest has been a marker for raising their own creative bar. Says Rohit Ohri, Chairman and CEO, FCB India, “At FCB, our creative transformation journey started in GoaFest 2017. It was the biggest haul of Abby’s that FCB ever had. Our creative confidence as an agency perked up and we went on to becoming India’s most awarded creative agency from 2019 to 2021.”
The festival and its awards have also embraced the shift to newer areas over the years. With it, so have agencies. Titus Upputuru, National Creative Director, Taproot Dentsu and Creative Head, Dentsu Integrated Solutions, recalls one such defining moment for his agency.
“There were many memorable moments, especially those of winning. But if I were to pick one, it would most certainly be this: A few years back, I remember walking up the stage when we won Gold in the Mobile category! This was for an innovation we had done for Airtel called Life Saving Wallpapers. The idea was purely digital and executed on mobile. And this was in the pre-pandemic era! So winning Gold in the Mobile category for a big client like Airtel was a big high! As a mainline creative agency, Taproot was essentially famous for winning largely in TV and Print categories. Which is why this win was super special!” he recalls.
Mandeep Malhotra, Founder, Srishti Media and Investments, recalls an incident followed by a landmark year for his former company, The Social Street.
He explains, “I have always looked up to the industry stalwarts and gotten inspiration from how grounded and reachable my seniors have been. My most unforgettable moment was when Sam, one such senior, walked in for an awards night (at an outdoor venue) and I saw him standing. I sourced a chair for him and Lara. And a few years later when I was at another agency, we won at the same awards and we won like no one’s business. That was my moment of glory — the haul we picked up that night in front of people I admired.”
The awards he is referring to is the Abby’s at Goafest 2018, when The Social Street emerged Agency of the Year.
Momentous Industry Milestones
Srinivasan K Swamy, Chairman, RK Swamy Hansa Group, reflects on the genesis of Goafest, which started as a germ of an idea on another awards stage.
“The main unforgettable moment for me was the day the original idea germinated. As President of AAAI, I was giving away AAA Awards to the winners on the lawns of Taj Lands End. As the apex industry body these awards were not as popular nor considered coveted compared to Ad Club’s Abby’s. We were then celebrating our Diamond Jubilee and I was determined to make a change on how our awards will be seen in future. Some of us soon aligned to the view that for us to succeed we must completely change the parameters of the awards game. A new location, industry conclave and knowledge seminars, many fun elements, after-hours parties and of course an awards show on a huge stage with entertainment thrown in for good measure. Rest, as they say is history,” he explains.
Dr Bhaskar Das, Secretary, The Ad Club, was President of the body when it forged the historic partnership with the AAAI to bring the Abby’s to Goafest.
He recalls modestly, “I have many fond memories of Goafest. It is very difficult to cherry pick them. But the memory of playing an insignificant role in making two industry bodies (Ad Club and AAAI) join hands to create Goafest has been very satisfactory.”
Irrespective of what the milestone moments have been at Goafest, for the industry and agencies, it remains a beacon of camaraderie that has survived the test of time over 15 editions and 17 years.
As Vikram Sakhuja, Group CEO Madison Media & OOH at Madison World, says, it is: “A celebration of life and all that is good with advertising and marketing.”
Here’s to the 15th edition.
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AAAI has created a destination to capture the best of Goafest all the way from 2006. Relive the memories here.